What is an Additional Insured?

Additional insured status is not the same as simply generating a certificate of insurance. Additional insured endorsements are primarily applied to General Liability or commercial auto policies. Additional Insured language does not apply to workers compensation. A certificate is simply proof that the insurance policy exists- and being named as a certificate holder does not grant the certificate holder any special status on the policy, but additional insured status actually extends policy rights to an entity other than the policy holder. An additional insured can report claims on the policy and has a right to legal defense and coverage under the policy if certain conditions are met. The most common scenario is when a General Contractor is named as an additional insured on a subcontractor policy. (Subcontractors can also be given additional insured status on lower level subcontractor policies if there are multiple “tiers” of contractors on a job). If there is a claim involving the subcontractor and the GC is an additional insured, the insurance policy will defend the GC as if they were the policyholder. If the GC was not an additional insured, and the GC was jointly named in a lawsuit because of the actions of a subcontractor, the GC would have to file a claim on their own policy in order to have protection from the lawsuit since the subcontractor’s policy has no duty to defend the GC unless there is an additional insured endorsement. It is possible that the GC insurance company could ultimately collect damages from the subcontractor (or their insurer) as reimbursement, but this is not an ideal scenario for the GC. It is ALWAYS recommended for GCs to be named as additional insured on subcontractor general liability policies, and some insurers may actually penalize the GC or deny claims if they do not collect certificates from subcontractors showing additional insured status.